Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This comment is for the sub editors who often do not pay close enough attention to grammatical errors in scripts presented to them by reporters.

"Hi Martine,

"You all often call out newspaper writers for grammatical errors as in your post yesterday (Different Strokes 2). I don’t think that’s fair to the writers. Under deadline pressure reporters make grammatical errors. That’s acceptable. What you don’t want are factual errors.

"A reporter’s job is to get the story, not write it up in award-winning prose. That’s the job of the subs and rewrite team. I think a lot of the errors you highlight should be caught by competent sub editors.

"I agree that the overall standard of reporting and journalism needs to improve, but let’s apportion blame where it’s deserved. Sub editors are supposed to be the grammatical gatekeepers at newspapers. Clearly, the ones at our newspapers are not doing what they’re paid to do.


Our response was you are correct, the subs need to do their jobs. Hopefully though with pressure being put on the reporters, they will in turn put pressure on the subs to do their jobs. But there are also factual errors in some of the stories we have highlighted, like the conflicting information on the same story published in different newspapers.

Reporters have to pay attention to what their sources tell them. It's probably easy to call up a source to get info, but aren't the people who have the real facts the police officers who are at the scene of a crime or accident? Wouldn't they be able to say whether the man who died was a passenger in the front seat or the back seat of the maxi? Or whether a log from a truck came loose and hit the passenger who died, instead of the truck crashing into the maxi?
Or the baby that died was a girl instead of a boy?
Or there were 3 people in the car instead of two?
So yes, the reporters are responsible for giving us the facts of the story, but sometimes it's difficult to even get those straight.
Who's at fault there?